Sage head at RUH

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

Last week I took a friend for her six-monthly trip to the pain management clinic at Royal United Hospital, Bath. I had the opportunity to visit my piece Sage which was in the Fusion exhibition last summer, and to check it had survived the winter OK.

It’s situated in one of the courtyard gardens – in Area D of the hospital if you happen to go there – and still looks good. The sage plant is growing and the ceramic head hasn’t developed any cracks, so all good. Nice to see the signposting is still up too.

The piece still officially belongs to me, but I’m happy for it to stay there and be seen, and hopefully appreciated, by staff, patients and visitors.

My next post should contain images from the Degree Show which starts with a Private View this Friday evening – and I’ve been very busy the last few days preparing the space, moving and setting up the work, and helping out where and when I can. Looking good. My work will be in glass cabinets in a darkened room…

Meanwhile here’s how Sage is looking now.


‘Sage’ head in situ at RUH, courtyard in area D


Closer view of ‘Sage’ head, info from Fusion exhibition still next to it



Installing my head…

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition, public Art

In a hospital. Don’t worry, it’s a ceramic head pot, part of the Fusion exhibition at the Royal United Hospital, Bath.

'Sage' head at RUH, Jubilee Courtyard

‘Sage’ head at RUH, Jubilee Courtyard

I was ably assisted by Tony, the man in charge of Art displays at RUH, who said, ‘I don’t usually spend my working day with my hand inside someone’s head…’

We had to move a heavy concrete plinth from one side of the courtyard to the other, tip it on its side and put a coach bolt through holes in both the ceramic pot and the concrete plinth. Then I could fill the pot with peat mixed with perlite, and plant the sage. It should be visible from the corridor, and this courtyard is accessible to the public, which is what I wanted. It’s opposite the entrance to D1, and will have a label soon.

View from the bench, with Tony

View from the bench, with Tony

Jo with 'Sage' head installed at RUH

Jo with ‘Sage’ head installed at RUH






I would love to make a whole series of these, perhaps for next year’s show.

Other artists were installing their contributions with Fiona (Student co-ordinator of Fusion exhibition) further down the corridor, so I went to see what they were up to. They had turned a dingy courtyard into an aquarium using mainly recycled materials:

Another courtyard, with fish...

Another courtyard, with fish…

... and jellyfish

… and jellyfish








Finally I headed off to meet up for lunch with another artist friend from Bath Spa, Viv Meadows. She  took me to see the latest incarnation of her ‘Tiny Tent’, outside All Saints Church in Farmborough:

Viv Meadows with her Tiny Tent

Viv Meadows with her Tiny Tent

Tiny Tent at All Saints church, Farmborough

Tiny Tent at All Saints church, Farmborough

Head Space

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

My new exhibition is now confirmed! It will contain some of the work from The Smile Project (without the tomato plant installation) plus some older work, and I’m calling it Head Space. Erm – because it’s mainly full of heads… And to be honest, it’s a Glastonbury joke too.

It will be at Blue Cedar Print Works, Silver Street, Glastonbury from Tues 4th August. Private View is Mon 3rd August 6-8pm so do come along if you’re in the area. I’ll be showing ceramic heads of various sizes and finishes, and lino-cut print/collages.P_20150707_114311

I’ll be sharing the space with another artist who I will be meeting this afternoon, so more on that later.

And next week I’ll be installing another head pot Sage at the Royal United Hospital in Bath as part of the Fusion exhibition.

That’s after my poetry readings at Priddy Folk Festival and a madrigal concert with Cantilena choir. Lots happening!


Art, Ceramics, Context, Exhibition

So what makes 42 tomato seedlings an Art Installation rather than a stall at a village fair?

The answer is intention and context. My intention was always to create Art, to be viewed and considered by an audience. Using living plants was always going to be slightly risky but was a vital part of the symbolism of this piece.

The disposable coffee cups they are growing in were collected by me every time I bought a tea or coffee when I was working in the studio. I knew I wanted to use these cups, but for a long time wasn’t sure how. The dimpled texture and bright colours appealed to me, along with the simple message enjoy with a smiley curve. They were stacking up on my windowsill over the months while I was dealing with my emotions around the illness and death of several friends.

pots stacked up and waiting for Spring

pots stacked up and waiting for Spring

In one of my moments of reverie staring out of the window the title came to me, Every Smile Bears Fruit, and I knew they would be perfect for growing seedlings. Tomatoes were the obvious choice, fast-growing and bearing edible fruit the same year.

seeds planted just after the equinox...

seeds planted just after the equinox…

The problem then was timing. I had to work backwards from the exhibition opening and work out when to plant the seeds. I settled on the day after the Spring Equinox, and very soon was delighting in the first little sprouts.

After two weeks I replanted any pots that weren’t showing seedlings, and watched with some trepidation as they all raced away – would they grow too much and all need re-potting before the exhibition? And watering became a regular part of my routine, along with turning and checking.

Tomato seedlings for 'Every Smile Bears Fruit' installation...

Tomato seedlings for ‘Every Smile Bears Fruit’ installation…

When it came to the exhibition set-up, I still wasn’t sure how I was going to display them, but I did know the area of the gallery I wanted to use. Donna and I struggled to move the heavy sideboard that was in that area, then I considered the options. In my original exhibition planning I’d specified shelves, but when it came to the day I decided that the floor was best. There are glass panels on the side of the stairs so the first view of the installation is at eye level.

Tomato seedlings 'Every smile Bears Fruit' installation

Tomato seedlings ‘Every smile Bears Fruit’ installation

I arranged the plants into curves, echoing the smiles on the cups, and mixing up the colours. The new green of the plants, and the smell they gave off, added to the whole ambience of the exhibition and delighted everyone who came to the Private View.

The final part of the Art context was my instruction that I wanted a photograph of everyone who bought a plant, holding it up and smiling, to go on the website as a record of the piece. These will be added to the Smile Project page on this site and I hope that people will send me photographic updates as their plants flower and fruit.

It is artwork with a temporal component, that needs visual documentation. It is continually changing and will eventually cease to be art. I am inspired by the Earth Art movement, artists such as Richard Long and Chris Drury, in which photographic documentation is often all that remains. Rather than using found natural materials or a repetitive action, I have used growing plants.

'Remember Love' Head pot, stoneware fired with local clay decoration; rosemary plant

‘Remember Love’ Head pot, stoneware fired with local clay decoration; rosemary plant

I think this may be an integral part of my future art practice. I planted up two of my head pots for this exhibition with plants that were meaningful and necessary to the titles (Pansy for Thoughtful and Rosemary for Remember Love); and my next exhibition piece for the Royal United Hospital project (Fusion July-October 2015) also features a planted head pot.

Watch this space.

Forthcoming Exhibitions…

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

So while my foot is up after the operation, I’ve lots of time to think about my Art. I’ve just been going through all the digital photos I took in my last week at the studio. Some of the best will end up in my ‘ceramics gallery’ on here, and I need to choose one for the exhibition poster too.

For those who don’t know yet, I’m staging my first solo exhibition at For Every Cloud gallery in Langport.The dates are from 12th to 28th May and I’ll be showing some of my ceramic heads and plaques, some lino cut prints, and an installation involving smiley disposable coffee cups and tomato seedlings.

stoneware fired ceramic plaque, glazed with mud

stoneware fired ceramic plaque, glazed with mud

stoneware fired ceramic plaque glazed with mud

stoneware fired ceramic plaque glazed with mud

Here’s a sneak preview of some plaques glazed with local mud:








stoneware fired ceramic plaque with bonfire ash glaze

stoneware fired ceramic plaque with bonfire ash glaze

earthenware fired ceramic plaque with coloured slip

earthenware fired ceramic plaque with coloured slip

and here are some mildly scary ones too, using coloured slips, and bonfire ash.







As it’s the Equinox this weekend I started planting the tomato seeds, which are now soaking up the warmth on my bedroom windowsill. I will be posting pics of their progress over the next few weeks.

DSC_0542 DSC_0543edit After the solo exhibition it’ll be time to get everything ready for my next venture. My work has been chosen to go into Fusion, a collaboration between Bath Spa University creative students and the Royal United Hospital in Bath. The show goes up in the hospital mid-July, and is taken down at the start of October. I’ll be showing one or more of my large head pots in courtyards, filled with compost and a plant. This is one I’ve made specially for the show, again glazed with local mud, and my hand-prints. I’ve yet to decide on a suitable plant…



Fusion at RUH

Art, public Art

So I went to hospital today – but as an artist, not a patient. It was a site visit for Fusion, a collaboration between Bath Spa Uni (BSU) creative students, of any discipline,  and the Royal United Hospital in Bath (RUH).

Edwina Bridgeman, Artist In Residence, part of 'Ship of Fools' exhibition

Edwina Bridgeman, Artist In Residence, part of ‘Ship of Fools’ exhibition


Here are some pics of existing art in the RUH building. The atrium is a large space with public art works, and there are many courtyards which can be used for sculpture or interventions, as well as various corridor walls which are fitted with professional hanging systems.






Bruce Munro, a light installation in courtyard

Bruce Munro, a light installation in courtyard

I’m quite excited – already have three ideas to submit: poetry for an anthology for waiting rooms; lino cut prints for corridor walls; and a large head pot on a plinth in a courtyard. The proposals have to be in by 20th February, so I have time to make new work and photograph existing work, as well as contact the publishing student who plans the anthology.





Artsparks programme, from the Children's Ward

Artsparks programme, from the Children’s Ward

RUH seems really supportive of the Arts ‘to stimulate healing and well-being, and create an uplifting environment for all who visit the hospital, or work in it.’ Something I can wholeheartedly support.

My first submission, and potentially my first public art work. Soon after my first exhibition. A lot of firsts this year.